For a long time now I have really agonized over one big hurdle that will come up when I finally live in a Tiny House, it is Air Conditioning. Today it topped a few degrees over 100 and it was humid, really humid.
There are many who can simply sweat it out when it comes to the heat here in North Carolina, but I admittedly am not one. Growing up in New Hampshire, just an hour and a half from the Canadian border, I love the cold and really hate the heat. In my mind, I can always add a layer in the cold, but when it comes to heat, well… there is only so much you can take off!
Here in NC we have an amazing growing seasons and when it comes time for me to work in the garden, I don’t shy away from the heat. It is the other times, when you just are hanging around, most people here can’t even sit in the shade with a cold drink and not end up needing a shower. What really gets me is not being able to sleep in the heat and humidity. I take a break from backpacking and camping during the summer months as I retreat into my air cooled sanctuary.
So what is the answer? If I were to have a solar array to power just my AC I would be looking at around 25 panels at 240 watts each, assuming 6 hours peak sunlight and estimating only 80% efficiency in the system. It would essentially cost me around $10,000 to just power my AC unit. I can’t believe I am going to say this, but is solar really sustainable? I have beginning to believe that it really isn’t when you look at the earth minerals to make them, the coal power that makes the factor’s electricity, and the gas guzzling truck to get the panels to me. I also am beginning to think sustainability isn’t really enough, but that is an entire different post.
There are some systems out there but they have some faults, one in particular is the Coolerado system that can output like a 5 ton system on only 4 solar panels. But it effectiveness drops a lot in humid climates, for example, the one I find myself in here in North Carolina. Many have suggested cross ventilation, shading the structure, thermal mass and geothermal options, but in all honesty they either cost the same, are only partially effective or both.
So what IS this answer? I am still left scratching my head.